By Edwina Roland
Living in South Mississippi during the summer months can be challenging. Our beautiful beaches and parks are very inviting, and we want to take advantage of every minute we have to enjoy our city with friends and family. However, sun exposure can be detrimental to our health if we don’t prepare and respect the sun. Here are a few things to remember:
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. At some point in our lives, we have heard that drinking appropriate amounts of water is important to our overall health. During the warmer months, it is even more essential. As we engage in outdoor activities, simply getting in and out of the car to run errands can cause us to lose more fluids than we would in the cooler months. Increasing your fluid intake will help you with your hydration status. Protein shakes and sodas are not as effective as water or drinks with electrolytes in replenishing the right amount for you to stay healthy. You may suspect you are dehydrated if your urine is a dark yellow or brown, if you feel an overwhelming thirst or are fatigued. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they can increase your chances of dehydration, and do not skip meals. Some individuals who become dehydrated and don’t recover quickly may require IV fluid intake administered in the emergency department.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. If you are not accustomed to working out in the yard, playing sports in the sun or otherwise being active in direct sunlight for long periods, make sure you are prepared. The elderly and children are more prone to heat exhaustion, so special care should be taken. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include dizziness, weakness, feeling jittery, heart palpitations and nausea.
Avoid sunburn by wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing. Include accessories like visors, hats and sunglasses. Many people don’t realize that the sun can damage eyes as easily as skin. Look for sunglasses with UV protection built into the lenses. Symptoms of sun-damaged eyes are itchiness, redness and watering that may occur after excessive sun exposure. To protect your skin, apply a sunscreen that’s at least 50 SPF; reapply to exposed areas as much as once every hour. Some medications can increase your risk of sunburn, so make sure you are educated on which of your medications may cause damage to the skin.
Don’t try and beat the heat. Sometimes it is just safer to stay inside during peak times and move around during cooler periods of the day, including nighttime. You know your body better than anyone else. If you think something is wrong, take action and stay safe!
Edwina Roland is a board-certified nurse practitioner at Garden Park Physician Group’s walk-in and family medicine clinic, located at 305 Cowan Road, Gulfport; you can reach the clinic at (228) 206- 7054.